New mother and triple negative breast cancer survivor, Genevieve Rademeyer, shares the heart-warming story of falling pregnant a year after her treatment.
Genevieve Rademeyer (30) lives in Benoni, Gauteng with her husband, Steve, and their six-month old baby, Ryan.
Triple negative breast cancer diagnosis
After feeling a lump and consulting a breast specialist and undergoing testing, Genevieve was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer in May 2018. “In some weird way when I first felt the lump, I already knew it was cancer. But actually hearing a doctor confirm it was absolutely heart-breaking and terribly scary.
It’s something that you wish was a bad dream that you would wake up from. You start to fear for your life as you rarely hear the success stories of cancer, just stories of when people die from it. You also fear how this will affect your family, because a lot of people don’t realise it’s just as hard for them as it’s for you,” she explains.
Due to Genevieve’s age (27) and her not having children, she and her husband were informed that there was a possibility that she wouldn’t be able to have children as the chemotherapy could affect her fertility. This was devastating news to hear as Genevieve always wanted children. “For as long as I can remember, all I wanted is to become a mother,” she says.
GnRH agonist injection
“I went to see a fertility specialist, as advised, to find out more about the option of freezing my eggs. I was also given an option to use an injection, a GnRH agonist, that would be given to me every two months that would help to protect my ovaries during chemotherapy. However, we were warned that even though this injection had a good success rate, there was a chance that it wouldn’t work. The freezing of eggs was way too expensive and there was no way that we could afford that, so my husband and I decided to go for the injection and we just hoped and prayed for the best,” Genevieve explains.
The fertility specialist also explained that to undergo artificial insemination, if needed in the future, a couple needs to have tried to conceive naturally for three years, with no success.
In June, Genevieve began treatment: 12 rounds of chemotherapy, with three weeks in between each round, which finished in October. She then had a lumpectomy in November and was told there was no evidence of disease (NED) after surgery. She started radiation in January 2019 and completed all treatment in February.
“In the beginning, it wasn’t too bad, I suppose it had to do with the chemotherapy having to first find its way into my system but once it did, it was rough. Still to this day when I think about it, I can feel exactly how I did throughout treatment. I even get the horrible taste in my mouth that chemo gave me. I think the worst part was that during the three weeks between the chemo rounds, you start to recover from the last treatment and feel like a human again, and then it was time to go back for the next round.”
Genevieve goes on to say, “A good support system is vital when going through treatment as it’s extremely taxing on the mind, body and soul. You need to stay strong and have people to help you get through it.
My husband was my absolute life-saver, especially nearing the end as I started refusing to go as it was so hard on me.”
After giving her body time to heal properly, Genevieve and Steve tried to fall pregnant. She says, “Even though we knew there may be a chance that we wouldn’t be able to have a child, we still tried and prayed.”
Mercifully, Genevieve fell pregnant in May 2020, about one year and three months after treatment. “When I thought I might be pregnant as I missed a period, I didn’t want to get my hopes up because I knew there could be a few reasons to why I had missed it.
I waited about a week or so after my period was due to take the test. Longest week of my life! When I took the test, it almost instantly turned positive. I remember that day clearly: my husband was still asleep when I took the test. When I saw it was positive, I was so excited and sat crying with joy for about 20 minutes in the bathroom and kept checking the test to make sure that I wasn’t just seeing what I wanted to see but that it truly was positive. All I wanted to do was tell Steve the exciting news but kept it from him for a few days to let him know in a very special way. That was super hard but so worth it when I told him.”
Genevieve’s special way included a letter written to Steve thanking him for being by her side through everything, especially the cancer, and that Ryan can’t wait to meet his dad. She included the pregnancy test and a shirt that read, “Let the adventure begin.”
Her team of doctors were ‘super happy’ for her and thankfully the 30-year-old had an easy pregnancy. “I would say it was near textbook, which was amazing considering everything my body went through,” she adds.
The birth of little Ryan
Little Ryan was born this year on 25 January, a week before his due date, and Steve and Genevieve are over the moon to be parents to “their little treasure.”
Even though, she is a new mother, Genevieve already knows what the best thing about being a mother is, “No matter what you do, that little person still loves you immensely and thinks the world of you, and makes you feel like you can do no wrong.”
The proud parents hope to have another child. “We want to wait until Ryan is about three years old but if it does happen before that, it will always be a blessing.”
Living beyond cancer
Genevieve goes for check-ups every six months. She admits that she still has a huge fear that there is something there. “My last check-up I had a scare but refused to back down and allow it to rule me, especially with my new precious treasure. Thankfully, it was negative.”
“With that said, I can only take it one day at a time and try to live my life as normal as possible. If I live in fear of the cancer coming back, it will rule my life and I’ll live in constant fear, which is not what any cancer survivor deserves. But, another great lesson I learnt through my cancer treatment is the mind is a super powerful thing and what you think will become your reality. I’m not saying forget it ever happened but instead learn from it, grow stronger and live your life the way that you want too!”
Photos by T Photography | Facebook: @tphotography18
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